Major league baseball training rooms are a popular spot for guys looking to get their daily drug fix. The drug of choice? Advil. Over the course of 162 games, plus spring training, plus the post season, an inflamed muscle here and there is impossible to avoid.
I have clear recollections of taking 12 Advil a day for weeks at a time. Hundreds of throws, swings of the bat, face first slams into dirt, full speed collisions with the wall – my body hurt so badly that I felt I had no choice. A couple of ibuprofen would take the edge off and let me get out there to do the same thing the next day.
Most people view non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil, Aleve, and aspirin as safe, since they are widely available without a prescription. However, a 2010 study out of Denmark found that usage of these drugs increased the risk of ischemic strokes and myocardial infarction (heart attack.)
When I learned of these risks, I knew I desired the opportunity to stop taking pills of any kind. Towards the end of my career, I discovered the benefits of anti-inflammatory foods, and I was able to stop taking Advil but still keep going onto the field.
When my body is beat up, I saturate my system with the foods below:
- Green Tea
- Olive Oil
- Greens and broccoli
All of these foods have strong anti-inflammatory properties, in addition to providing plenty of nutritional benefits. If you’re interested in learning more about specific anti-inflammatory foods, my favorite resource is here.
I try to incorporate all of these items into my diet on a regular basis, but I increase them at the first sign of any stiffness, soreness or pain. Inflammation can be cumulative, so at the first signs, I’m reaching for the kale and cutting out the refined sugars.
From a PubMed article:
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are a heterogeneous, complex group of compounds that are formed when reducing sugar reacts in a non-enzymatic way with amino acids in proteins and other macromolecules… The deleterious effects of AGEs in different tissues are attributed to their chemical, pro-oxidant, and inflammatory actions… After activation, NF-κB translocates to the nucleus where it will activate the transcription of genes for cytokines, growth factors and adhesive molecules, such as tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), interleukin 6 (Il-6), well known inflammation promoters, and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM1). NF-κB activation increases RAGE expression, creating a positive feedback cycle that enhances the production of inflammation promoters.
That’s a lot of words to express something very simple. Sugar = inflammation = pain.
It’s extraordinarily difficult to feel a general sense of well-being when we are navigating our days in pain. Our work hours seem longer, and our time with loved ones is less enjoyable. Incorporating some anti-inflammatory foods into your diet will result in healthier, happier moments and improve your general lifestyle.